Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has engaged an investigator to probe the exact amount of money that businessman Leston Mulli owes the government from his alleged illegal operation of some bus depots across the country through his company National Bus Services (NBS).
Nyirenda disclosed this in an interview on Wednesday two days after he had obtained a court preservation order stopping NBS from dealing in any way or collecting gate-pass fees in five depots that are under dispute.
He said information from the investigator shows that during the 15 years that NBS operated the bus depots, every bus company using the depots was paying K300,000 per month, revenue which he said was meant to go to the government through local councils.
“The money excluded daily entrance fees. We may have underestimated the amount that the government lost. It can’t be K5 billion as reported before. It should be several billions of kwachas,” Nyirenda said.
He added that the investigator has at the meantime asked directors of councils beginning with city councils to consolidate and provide him with the total revenue which they have lost since the bus depots were taken away from them.
Nyirenda said the aim of the action is to protect government assets from exploitation and correcting mistakes from the past.
“If we don’t claim these government assets, then we will be setting a very dangerous precedent. Next time someone will claim ownership of our airports and claim user fees.
“Next someone will claim ownership of our roads that have toll gates and claim fees from there… Government will then be technically bankrupt. The issue looks small but it is very big,” he added.
Meanwhile, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Blessings Chinsinga has said his ministry is carefully studying all the court orders on the matter so that they advise the councils accordingly on how they can repossess the bus depots.
On July 28, 2022, High Court Judge Mandala Mambulasa ruled that Mulli and NBS be dispossessed of the five depots namely: Lilongwe, Wenela in Blantyre, Kasungu, Makata in Zomba and Mzimba and ordered the local councils to take ownership.
Mulli’s lawyer Lusungu Gondwe that time said the ruling was inconsequential since there was another injunction which was granted by the Commercial Court on the same matter.